In just over five years, Jane Shepherdson has taken womenswear retailer Whistles to the high-end of the high street, but can she repeat that success with the launch of its first menswear collection, which arrived in stores this week?
At its St Christopher Place flagship, just off Oxford Street in London, the 120-piece collection is all clean-lined basics and smart casual classics. Quality is key, through higher-end fabrics and fancy finishes, and the punchy prices reflect that, coming in above rival Reiss. Cuts are generally slim and everything is in safe but sellable navy, grey and black, with the odd splash of pink, teal or cobalt.
Knitwear dominates, starting with neat raglan-sleeve felted knits (80% wool, 20% nylon, £80) and chubby roll-necks with dropped-shoulder details (53% wool, 30% nylon, 17% alpaca, £145), going up to a super-soft 100% cashmere jumper (£195).
Outerwear is also strong, including a simple mac with concealed buttons and quilted lining (£295) and a smart db herringbone coat that blends wool, cotton, alpaca and mohair (£450).
While there is no distinct or standout handwriting to the collection, it’s more about considered tweaks to wardrobe staples – a simple bomber jacket comes in boiled wool for a point of difference, a bonded double-faced jersey updates a simple T-shirt, while shirts feature slick concealed pockets.
Everything has a subtle design treatment to make it stand out, without being too complicated. There probably won’t be season-defining sellouts as with the womenswear range, but a nice jumper and good coat will always prove popular.
The collection is being rolled out initially to 17 stores, including Covent Garden, Bath, Oxford, Glasgow and Liverpool.